NSW Government failing on student wellbeing

New figures that show student wellbeing has hit a new low underline the extent of the classroom crisis in NSW schools.

Department of Education data, published today, reveals just 62 per cent of high school students and 83 per cent of primary school students reported a positive sense of belonging and had an expectation of success last year.

They are the lowest scores recorded since the wellbeing metric was first reported in 2015 and are far below the targets of 69 per cent and 91 per cent the Perrottet Government set for 2022.

NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos said the results came a day after a national Black Dog Institute study  warned teacher wellbeing was so poor that 50 per cent of teachers were considering leaving in the next 12 months.

 “Our students urgently need additional counsellors and our teachers urgently need relief from their unsustainable workloads.” Mr Gavrielatos said.

“A counsellor for every 500 students is now the minimum that is required. With the pandemic and the spate of natural disasters we have seen in the last few years, there has been an exponential increase in the number of students who need counselling.

“We hear constantly from schools that there are unacceptably long waiting lists for counsellors and too many positions are vacant, particularly in the country.

“Teacher shortages are also contributing to these poor results with 3,300 permanent positions vacant at the end of last year. Teacher shortages lead to a drop in student engagement and wellbeing and greater truancy and behavioural problems.

“Student and staff wellbeing are critical issues that must be addressed through a comprehensive government approach. Instead this government just outsources the problems to accounting firms.

“The Perrottet Government’s own research shows two thirds of teachers feel burnt out because of their unsustainable workloads and the teacher shortages

Mr Gavrielatos said he was disappointed the Perrottet Government had rejected the need for 1 counsellor for every 500 students, after supporting that ratio five years ago.

Four inquiries in the last 20 years have recommended the 1:500 ratio, including parliamentary inquiries in 2009/10 and 2016/17.